This fall, Goshen College will bring “Godspell” to the Umble Center stage, a musical that tells the story of the community created by Jesus during his time on earth. Community and fellowship are at the heart of Mennonite culture and by extension a large part of the GC experience. According to director Doug Liechty-Caskey and music director Scott Hochstetler, this makes Stephen Schwartz’s musical “Godspell” a perfect fit for our campus.
“This is a show that brings the cast together in a special way while sharing the teachings that are central to our faith,” said Hochstetler, describing why this show was selected as Goshen’s fall mainstage this year.
“That’s why we picked a small cast,” said Liechty-Caskey. “To create our own community.”
“Godspell” is a show that lets the director and actors have the freedom to create their own musical out of ideas suggested in the script. And that’s exactly what Liechty-Caskey and Hochstetler have in mind for this production.
For those who think they know the musical, Liechty-Caskey has one thing to say: “This is not your grandmother’s ‘Godspell.’”
Goshen’s production of “Godspell” is based on the 2012 Broadway revival of the musical. The revival production features music that is much more contemporary than in the original production. Liechty-Caskey hopes people leave the theater thinking, “Wow, I thought I knew ‘Godspell,’” and having their minds changed about it.
The music of this production is very different from the music traditionally performed at GC. “Godspell’s” music is rock-based and much more contemporary than what most students are used to performing and working with. This provides an opportunity for the cast members to develop new skills in singing and to challenge themselves musically in new ways. Hochstetler is particularly looking forward to working with the music for this production because of this.
In addition to Liechty-Caskey and Hochstetler, the direction of “Godspell” includes Andrew Moeggenborg as technical director and set designer as well as student choreographer, junior Maggie Weaver.
Weaver is from Lititz, Pennsylvania, and is choreographing all of the dancing for “Godspell.” Weaver has previously been involved with creating choreography for GC’s 2014 production of “The Marriage of Figaro,” as well as last spring’s opera/musical theater scenes. With a general idea about the nature of the dances, Weaver says she is looking forward to working with the cast and creating dances that will work well for the production and the cast personality. Cast members of “Godspell” include: Jacob Zehr as Jesus, Ben Ganger as John the Baptist/Judas, and ensemble members Martin Flowers, Christina Hofer and Paul Zehr, seniors; Morgan Short, Galed Krisjayanta, Maggie Weaver and Sadie Gustafson-Zook, juniors; Emily Evans and Simon Weaver, sophomores; and Naomi Peters and Lukas Thompson, first-years.
“Godspell” opens on November 13, and will have five performances before closing on November 22. Tickets will be available closer to the opening performance.